Consumer News & Views
In this Issue…
Consumer Confidence Index Drops Slightly in February. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in January, fell moderately in February. The Index now stands at 78.1 (1985 = 100), down from 79.4 in January.
Thomas Hinton, president of the American Consumer Council, which closely monitors the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index®, stated, “We view this decline as a bump in the road based on a very harsh winter and the fact that consumers remain frustrated with a lack of cooperation in Washington to fix real-world problems.” Hinton added, “A growing number of consumers have given up on any long-term economic solutions coming out of Washington. Instead, consumers are now trying to drive their own economic solutions and success.”
General Motors Loses Consumers’ Trust with Recent Recalls and Revelations. Growing numbers of consumers are frustrated and angry with General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over their failure to properly handle a faulty ignition switch problem that has been linked to 13 deaths.
Jerry Hirsch of the Los Angeles Times reported that the NHTSA has launched an investigation into why General Motors did not react more quickly to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles after it learned that faulty ignition switches were causing fatal crashes. The American Consumer Council and other consumer organizations are calling for answers.
GM on Thursday issued its second apology for not moving faster to fix the problem, which is linked to 13 deaths in the Chevrolet Cobalt and other small cars.
Safety experts praised the start of the investigation, which could result in up to a fine of up to $35 million, but faulted NHTSA for not taking action earlier, when it found out about the problem.
"This is a total failure of the recall system," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. "Both GM and NHTSA bear responsibility."
After looking at the chronology of events behind the recalls this week, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said the safety agency should improve the system for automaker reporting of potential safety defects.
"We need to overhaul the Early Warning Reporting system so that NHTSA is not looking at auto defects through a rearview mirror," said Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "Making more information public can help prevent accidents and deadly crashes, and I look forward to hearing from NHTSA on this important matter."
In a statement, NHTSA said it constantly monitors a variety of data. "When the agency finds a trend that indicates a vehicle may be an outlier, we take action. The data available to NHTSA at the time did not contain sufficient evidence of a possible safety defect trend that would warrant the agency opening a formal investigation."
GM recalled the vehicles in two phases this month, but documents filed with the federal safety agency demonstrate that the automaker first learned of the problem in 2004.
The recall covers the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-07 Saturn Ion, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 Saturn Sky.
The ignition switches in the recalled vehicles can be inadvertently turned from the "run" position to the "accessory" position while the car is being driven. When this happens, the engine shuts off and safety systems — including power steering, anti-lock brakes and air bags — are disabled. This has led to at least 31 crashes and the 13 deaths.
News of the investigation prompted a second apology from GM on Thursday. "We deeply regret the events that led to the recall and this investigation," the automaker said in a statement. "We intend to fully cooperate with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts. Today's GM is committed to learning from the past while embracing the highest standards now and in the future."
General Motors had acknowledged Tuesday that it
reacted too slowly to the safety issue.
American Consumer Council Invites Members to Serve on Board and Committees. The American Consumer Council (ACC) has issued an invitation to members to serve on its Board of Directors and standing committees. At ACC’s next annual membership meeting, two members will be elected to ACC’s board of directors to fill expiring terms of two directors.
ACC also is seeking additional member representation for its eight standing committees – Education; Sponsorship; Advocacy & Consumerism; Member Services; Regional & State Councils; Marketing; Regulatory & Government Affairs; and, Awards & Recognition.
Any member who is interested in serving on the ACC Board of Directors must submit a statement describing their interest and qualifications. ACC’s Secretary will post a ballot on April 14 for all members to complete no later Friday, May 9th. The two top vote recipients will be seated as new directors at the 2014 annual meeting to be held on Friday, June 13, in San Diego. Service as an ACC board member is a voluntary position and elected directors are not compensated for their service. Officers of credit unions and regulatory officials and their agents are not eligible for service in keeping with ACC’s policies relating to conflicts-of-interest.
The email address for all responses is: email@example.com
Any member who wishes to serve on one of ACC’s eight standing committees may do so by sending a statement describing their interest and qualifications. Appointments are announced on a regular basis. Officers of credit unions and regulatory officials and their agents are not eligible for service in keeping with ACC’s policies relating to conflicts-of-interest.
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ACC Annual Meeting Scheduled for Friday, June 13. The annual meeting of the American Consumer Council will be held in San Diego, California on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 10:00 am PST. The specific meeting location will be announced soon. This year’s meeting will include a teleconference call to accommodate more members who wish to participate. All voting members are invited to participate in the annual business meeting. There is no cost to attend the meeting.
To register to participate at this year’s annual meeting, please email the ACC office. If you wish to participate via the teleconference, please request the password for access to the conference call at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual meeting will discuss business matters pertinent to the management and operations of the American Consumer Council including the election of two new directors for the board of directors, and review activities and issues during the past 12 months. An agenda will be posted on the ACC website by May 1st.
Green CSM Certification Accepting Applications for 2014 Spring Cycle:
If your company or organization would like to increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the Green CSM Certification. Applications for the 2014 Spring cycle are now being accepted through March 31, 2014.
It's a proven fact that consumers want to do business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.
All applicants complete the criteria and submit their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and feedback. Program details and the Green CSM Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: http://americanconsumercouncil.org/greenc.asp